We all know eating more vegetables is good for our health but making the transition from a meat-filled diet to a meat-less diet is a big step for many of us living in a state that boasts the world’s best bratwursts (and ahem, and the world’s largest bratfest). However, more and more Wisconsinites are jumping on the vegetarian bandwagon. Veg-friendly products, restaurants and menu options are popping up in all corners of Wisconsin and making it easier for veggie lovers and aspiring veggie lovers to eat more plants and eat them well.
The arguments in favor of going meatless are numerous. One of the biggest concerns vegetarian proponents cite is global warming. A 2006 report by the United Nations confirms that raising livestock for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Another argument is the often inhumane and cruel treatment of animals, especially in slaughterhouses where meat is processed and packaged, as highlighted by Eric Schlosser in his book, Fast Food Nation. Others argue that going vegetarian helps abate the diminishing global food supply and our state – and world’s – growing obesity epidemic.
Whatever the reason for taking the leap into vegetarianism, making the commitment to eat more plant-based foods is a great first step towards ensuring we’re well-fueled with the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need. But what exactly does being a “vegetarian” mean? In the first of a three-part series, we’re going to break down the different types of vegetarianism and help you decide what kind of vegetarian eating style will best suit your lifestyle.
A vegetarian does not consume meat – no red meat, poultry or seafood – but will eat animal products like eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. Vegetarians also tend to avoid animal-derived products like rennet and gelatin, which are found in many seemingly vegetarian foods, including cheese.
An ovo-vegetarian eats eggs but not dairy products while a lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy but no eggs.
A vegan diet excludes all animal products. That means no meat, eggs, dairy or honey. The ideal vegan diet is chock full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and healthy fats in the form of olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Thankfully, there are vegan cookies, because who can live without cookies?
A pescetarian is essentially a vegetarian who eats fish and shellfish but no other meat.
A raw foodist eats a healthy diet of foods that are never cooked to a temperature above 115 degrees. While not all raw foodists are vegetarians or vegans, raw veganism is the most common type and rising in popularity. It is a diet based on uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains and legumes. Raw foodists argue that essential nutrients and enzymes are lost in the cooking process, making them harder to digest and leaving toxins behind.
Stay tuned for part two: how to cut meat out of your diet and build a well-stocked vegetarian pantry!
Holly is a Wisconsin blogger with a passion for healthy, veggie-based foods. You can read more about going vegetarian, and get great recipes, by visiting her blog: The Healthy Everythingtarian.
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